[UPDATE] Challenging the Rick Scott Rule Freeze

By: The News Service of Florida, Troy Kinsey
By: The News Service of Florida, Troy Kinsey

[UPDATE] Tallahassee -- June 30, 2011

Rick Scott campaigned for Florida governor to get government out of the way of doing business.

Scott has frozen hundreds of regulations, a move his critics say is unconstitutional, and now, they're taking him to court.

"So help me God...so help me God."

It wasn't long after uttering those words back in January...Governor Scott 'got to work'.

His first official act, freezing 900 rules and regulations on the verge of taking effect.

From cracking down on pain clinics to putting food stamp applications online, everything Tallahassee was about to do, didn't happen.

"All rise!"

Now, the governor's being sued over the move, which critics call unconstitutional.

Scott's attorney, Charles Trippe says:

"As he comes into office, taking over from another administration, with this vast administrative machinery, to exercise his constitutional duty and power, he has to be able to say, 'please let me stop and review this'. "

In signing his executive order,Scott effectively declared war on dozens of interest groups, and he outcome here could have a monumental impact on his pro-business agenda.

One of the rules Scott put on hold would have made it more difficult for bottled water companies to tap Florida's springs.

Eric Draper with Audubon of Florida worries if it's not put into effect, water levels could drop and make the formation of sinkholes more likely.

"If you're only looking at the immediate economic issue and you're saying, 'well, go ahead, developer, take as much water as you want, or farmer, take as much water as you want', then what about the poor citizens that have to worry about whether or not their houses are going to fall into a sinkhole? "

Ultimately, their only recourse may be to head back to the polls in 2014.

After all, Scott was elected governor to make decisions that may be controversial, and in this case, may be completely legal.

The high court is expected to rule on the case sometime in the coming days and weeks.

The lawsuit was brought by a Miami woman who complained Scott's freeze prevented her from applying for food stamps online.

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Tallahassee, Florida - June 29, 2011 -

A lawsuit filed against Gov. Rick Scott in March that accuses him of overstepping his constitutional authority by suspending rule-making by state agencies was heard Wednesday morning by the Florida Supreme Court. In Whiley v. Scott, a blind woman named Rosalie Whiley says the governor is usurping a power granted to the Legislature to grant rule-making authority to state agencies. Attorney Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte told the Florida Supreme Court that Scott’s executive order suspending rule-making and establishing a new office to oversee rules conflicts with a law established by the Legislature that determines how rules are made by state agencies. “We are not here on a rule challenge,” D’Alemberte said. “We are here on questions of the governor’s authority to issue executive orders that conflict with procedures set forth by Legislature.” But Charles Trippe, the governor’s attorney, said Scott has the constitutional authority to oversee rule-making and contends the executive order does not interfere with the Legislature’s authority. “The governor’s power and duty is provided directly by the constitution,” Trippe said. Justices peppered both attorneys with questions on this issue, made more complex by a new state law (HB 993) that also changes how administrative rules are made and adopted. “The issue is ‘Can the governor stop rule-making authority, or if by doing that is he acting outside executive branch role and encroaching on the legislative branch?” said Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Pariente. But Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady appeared to see things differently. “We are talking about administrative rule making,” Canady said. “Law making is a legislative function and the parameters for administrative rule-making is satisfied by the Legislature. Who promulgates the rules? It is the executive branch.” The court adjourned after nearly an hour of arguments.


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